Monday, November 22, 2010

"Wiggle your big toe."

If you ask any previously pregnant, or a woman 30+ weeks pregnant, they will tell you that the last few weeks of incubation seem to last longer that the first and second trimester put together. My mother warned me of this, but I hardly believed it as I soared through July running up until the end of that month.

After Labor Day, I went into pre-term labor. I was told that we'd probably have a baby within 2-3 weeks, so to me that was sometime in September.

***Begin time freeze***

I sat at home, waiting. I went back to work, waiting. My due date came, and I was still waiting. Of all the emotions that flood, seep, and blast through you, it was hardest to sit and wait for your life to start again. I was sick of just holding off on everything with the fear that the next day, I'd be unavailable because I was in labor. I just wanted that baby in my belly to be in my arms, and I really started to think that I'd be Joe's wife on Family Guy, and just be pregnant forever.

Finally, at 40 1/2 weeks, little Gil started stirring (to put it lightly). My life is about to move forward! We raced to the hospital and after just a few short hours of verbally abusing Nate, rapid labor and dilation, I was headed to surgery for a C-section. I was okay with it. I trusted the doctor's call, and at that point, I wanted what ever was best, and I wanted that baby!

After about 32 people flooded into our room, prepped me, and got me into Operating Room 2. I was about an hour away from motherhood. Once I found out that the burning smell was me, and Nate was by my side, it all went so fast. Gil was here, I was a mom, tears were shed and recovery had started.

We were moved into a recovery area (which I was abandoned promptly by my husband for my son) I just remember it was so warm in there, and I felt great. I asked immediately how long we'd be in this area, since I had spent 10 hours in triage when I was in labor back in September. The nurse told me it would be a few hours, and I was okay with that too. This particular morning was yielding a lot of Valentine's Day babies, and was about as crowded as The Olive Garden was back in February. (ha-ha!) I just wanted to know what I was in for. I knew that at some point, I'd be in my room, holding my son and relaxing. Life was moving forward. Ah!

The nurse and Anesthesiologist kept checking on me to see if the cocktail of drugs was wearing off yet. They told me as soon as I could "wiggle my big toe", I'd be in line for a room. Really? Wiggle my big toe? I couldn't help but pretend that I was Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Bill. I can honestly say, I have never identified with this character, because I am simply not that much of a bad ass. I was pretty excited. I kept looking at my toe and saying "Wiggle your big toe". Nate knew what I was doing, but Gil kind of overshadowed my playful little game. Oh well. I was channeling B Kiddo, and that was pretty cool with me.

So it all came down to that. All the waiting, pain, slicing and numbness was done. I could move on with my new life of motherhood and family bliss, if only I could wiggle my big toe.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's in a name?

O.G. - Original Gil

Kathy, Nate and Gil

Nate and Gil


Finally, I can proudly announce that Gil Emerson Shephard has entered this world - Again! With a poof and a spark, Nate and I are parents! Whew!

Months and months ago, we finalized our name picks. One for a girl, and one for a boy. The girls' names flowed onto our list with ease and finesse. We narrowed it to one from about 852, all of which we adored. The boys names were not that easy to make the list. Nate liked Seneca, I did not. We both liked William, but it just wasn't right. I liked Archie, and Nate most definitely did not. We always considered Gil Emerson, as a tribute to Nate's late father. Finally, the sentimentality got the best of us, and so it was. Our boy would be named after his grandfather.

According to, Gil is Greek and is ranked #2922 in popularity and #2039 on the website. Go figure.

I never met the O.G. (original Gil), who passed away in 1987, but his spirit has lived on ever since. He apparently had a wild side, lust for life and a sense of humor that could not be matched. My mother took care of him in the hospital all those years ago. His death hit her pretty hard because he was so young and had young children, one my age. He was also, well, Gil Shephard, not to be soon forgotten.

Nate and I both thought that Gil fit our first sons' name well. In utero, he was a wild man. He kicked, jabbed, prodded and elbowed his way through the third trimester. He even tried to arrive 9 weeks early, only to make it past his due date. He didn't exactly make labor fun and pleasant, so I was sure we'd have quite a kid on our hands. (Remember, we don't know if we are having a boy or girl at this point)

All along, I felt I was having a boy, so naturally I assigned a personality to him. It was one that was defiant, fussy and loud, but most certainly all mine to love and cuddle. Instead, I got a loving, cuddly, even tempered, sleeping bundle of joy. His mild manner grabs you, sucks you in and practically forces the tears to drip from your eyes.

I have to admit that it was hard transitioning from calling him Baby Shep to Gil at first, but after a while, it came naturally. I was sure that our name decision was absolutely right when we got a letter from Grandma D, O.G.'s mother. It read that she was "ecstatic about the name" and "Thank you".

Now, we have bushels and baskets full of years together -me, Nate and Gil. There are so many things that will be unpredictable. Two things I know, however. Gil will be like his Grandpa. He'll be completely unforgettable and 100% adored by everyone around him. (Already is!) The other is that he'll have a proud guardian angel looking down on him that couldn't ask for anything better for his own son.

Lastly, I was happy to realize that I was wearing O.G's wedding band around my neck in labor. Since I had a C-section, I had to take it off, so Nate had it safely stored in his pocket during delivery. I didn't plan that, but I'd like to think that was a sign that everything was going to be okay, and it was.

So here's to the Gil's! You both have a special room reserved in our hearts forever!

Friday, November 5, 2010

So, good luck with that...

I, admittedly, thought that I'd hear all kinds of advice about how to put your baby to bed, what not to do at dinner time, and how to breastfeed my new baby. The unsolicited advice has been at a minimum. I have, however, had a great time listening to all the strange, awkward and sometimes flat out inappropriate comments people make about pregnancy and babies. It's been very entertaining to say the least!

First, it started when I was showing. (I was!) It was obvious that people wanted to ask, but didn't want to offend. I have to admit that I did take offense at first, but in the way that I couldn't believe people didn't see the belly, or refused to. I then started using it as if I did let myself go after I wrangled that husband of mine, but just for a minute. Good stuff.

Here are a few of the top comments to me that I wanted to share. They are just too good to keep to myself.

1. Upon announcing my pregnancy to my parents on the phone, my mother says, "oh! What about the cats? You know they kill babies. They don't mean to, but they climb into the crib and lick the milk off their face."
What do you say?

2. I was 9 months pregnant and ran into a client that I have known for years. I hadn't seen him in person in over a year, to be fair. We met at a meeting and he said "Oh my God! You got a haircut!" I had to. I said "Of all of the physical changes in me, you notice my hair?!" he laughed, but I think I embarrassed him. He is an engineer. If you know one, you know what I mean.

"Oh hey! I was just thinking of you last night. Scott and I saw a show about how children kill their parents." I burst into laughter, and all I could say is "So, good luck with all that!"

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Whopper dilemma and other Halloween ramblings

Nate and I have had a long history of Halloween candy stresses in our lives. Well, I guess more than others, I suppose. In high school, I told him that he smelled like "old Halloween candy" and he got mad at me. Really mad at me. (A few months ago, I told him that he smelled like Barbie legs, so take it for what it's worth)

Yesterday was our first official Halloween as the united front, The Shephards. I wish that I was over dramatizing some of the following conversations and theories, but I am not. I am writing about this solely to look back in a few years and laugh. I will probably be laughing about how nothing changes.

To preface the story, I should tell you that we decided amicably, to buy (2) 105 piece bags of a combo pack of Kit Kats, Whoppers, Hershey bars, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. We have a huge neighborhood, and even this amount was a risky bet that we'd make it through.

We woke up late, as any married couple that was about to have a baby would. The first thing Nate says to me is something like, "I think kids are going to hate The Whoppers. You should give out (2) of those and one of the others." He was obviously laying in bed thinking of how bad this situation was for the children that I was about to infect with Whoppers.

Me: "I love Whoppers, and I'd be happy with them, so I wouldn't worry. The bummer candy in my opinion are the Good'nPlenty, smarties and Necco wafers."

Nate: "Whoppers are like drywall covered in chocolate. How about 5 pennies taped together? What can you do with that?"

Okay, Whoppers and pennies are NOT the same, and this is how we started the day.
Flash to several hours later ...

4:10 We started Sunday dinner early. Nate didn't want to be interrupted because to him, there is nothing worse than being interrupted at dinner. By the way, he is 33, not 91.

We ate, uninterrupted.

5:00, we got ready for the trick or treaters. Tick tock. Nothing.
6:00, I was poised (literally) by the window trying to get my first glimpse of tiny witches, goblins and princesses. Nothing yet.
6:30 We both get restless. I am at a fever pitch of excitement, and Nate just wants this over with already.

6:45 We get our first customer! I dole out (1) piece of candy.
In the next hour, we get about 15-20 kids. Nate tried to calculate exactly how many kids in retro spect. He then says, "Maybe if we get only a few more kids by 7:30, you should give out 2 each."

I am hesitant.

In the meantime, we get a good wave of kids and adults making their way down our street. This makes Nate nervous.
Nate: "Maybe we should give (1) Whopper and (1) of something else now." (Remember, Whoppers are third class citizens, apparently, so that is like giving 1 1/2 pieces.)

Me: "I think we're fine."

Another wave of kids comes by...

We went back to (1) piece each. Now, our booty is really low. My plan was to turn the lights out at 9:00. Nate balked at that.
"9:00? I can remember getting in big trouble over coming home at 8:30. ALL the parents were pissed. If you thought you came home at 11:00, you didn't."
Me: " I said, it felt like 11:00, but I know that's not true. I just don't know!"

8:26 Our bowl is D.O.A. I had to turn down cute little kids in furry little cat costumes because we just couldn't manage our candy, no matter how hard we tried.

I was really disappointed because the kids were losing out. Nate, in all seriousness, looked at me and said "I know you blame this on me. You don't think that we got enough candy at Target, and now you are mad at me."
I laughed, "No, not at all. We both agreed to the bags of candy, don't worry about it."
Nate: "We bought over $20 worth of candy, I can't run out now, it's too late! We won't get that many more kids!"
Me: " I know, I am just sad that we can't give all the kids candy, that's all."
Nate: "Turn off the lights now, it's over."

I almost forgot to tell you, that at one point Nate asked me how many pieces I was dishing out, and just wanted to see if I was throwing handfuls in kids bags. yep.

And that was our Halloween, and that is our life. We stress over the nuances of candy distribution, but it took us all of a week to have the first and middle names of a boy name and a girl name selected when I was about 7 weeks pregnant. Also last night, we both decided that Malta would be a great place to visit. And so, the adventure continues...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Baby(Shep) on the Brain

Month 9 of marriage...(week 30 of pregnancy)

It's still fun, and ever exciting with my Nate! We are so over enveloped in the baby's arrival, it is about all we think about, aside from when Curb Your Enthusiasm comes on at 10:00pm. Even then, we read to the baby on commercial breaks, and have decided that baby loves Dr. Seuss the best.

In case you aren't yet a parent-to-be, or just want to remember how this stage of the game goes, it's something like this...

You hope that your baby looks like your partner.
You hope that your baby sleeps like you. (in my case)
You wonder if you'll be all alone in the hospital, or your husband will actually make it in time.

Of course, you wonder if you are going to be a good parent, and if your husband and you will make a good team.

You wonder if the things you do and say, are somehow going to completely mess your kid up in their adult life both socially and internally.

You wonder if, by playing Beatles albums will spark some creative musical genius, or by playing Frank Zappa will make him weird. What if the Ramones makes the kid hyper?

Is there mold in this house?
What if the position of the crib is bad for morning sun, and the vent blow right on the baby all night? Is this bad?

Once you temporarily get over whatever issue you think you are instilling in your kid, and you have given your husband the "once over", you get into somewhat strange conversations with your partner. Or, in my case, your husband asks you questions that you aren't sure he has ever even seen a baby.


Me: "I am not sure why all baby bedding comes with a comforter. What a waste, you can't even use it for at least the first 6 months."
Nate: "Do you realize that we are having a baby this winter? What are you going to do, put the baby in a diaper and throw him in the crib?
Aside - This is a true story
Me: "No, but you have to swaddle a baby! Why don't we get a ton of stuffed animals and pillows and make sure they are in the crib too?"
Nate: "Show me a picture of a swaddled baby. I need to see this."
I do this. Of course, the first picture that comes up is a Russian baby that is swaddled so only the face is showing.
Nate: I am NOT doing that to the baby! It looks like torture."
We search for the proper way to put a baby to bed. I am right, by the way. Thank God for Google.


Let me preface this story with telling you that Nate is an extremely clean person, that doesn't ever want to ruin anything. By ruin, I mean get a spot of anything on anything.

We got our stroller in the mail a few weeks ago. I put it together. Nate asked me where I was going to store it.

Me: "The garage" with a puzzled look on my face
Nate: "um,, I don't' like that. How about the hall closet?"
Me: "Why? What's the point in that? It's an outdoor item!"
Nate: "We may have mice in the garage right now, and I really don't want mouse piss on the stroller, and it's dirty in there."
Me:"Are you serious? This kid is going to poop up his back, puke, spill in this thing!"
Nate: "can we buy a Rubbermaid container to store it in? I'd just assume store it in my car , then."
Me: "So, when you are at work, and I need the stroller, it's safely tucked in the back of your Jeep? Do you know those Rubbermaid containers are about $300.00?"

This shouting match pretty much stopped here...for now. The stroller is in the hall closet, for now.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The new adventures of Bshep

Just a year ago my, shall we say, partner in life, and I decided to get married. It was quite romantic (to me) and (not so) "run of the mill". We were in Niagara Falls, leaving for my parents to see my brother for his birthday.

First on the priority list was deciding to sit down and eat at The Como, a slightly Paison diner that serves free pancakes with every order. I mention this only because it makes Nate visibly angry. I have no problem with it. (These were the days that I could eat runny eggs to my hearts delight!)

A few sips of coffee, and some complaining about the impending pancakes, we made it to the marriage conversation. Always an interesting turn of topic when you go from syrup to spending the rest of your life with the person across from you at a fake wood table and 40 year old decor surrounding you. Long story short, I don't like diamonds, didn't want one, and the decision was made with Nate saying "Let's do this". So we did. We got married, moved in together, went to Tasmania, and now I am 26 weeks pregnant. What a year!

Happy 8 month anniversary to us! And so it begins...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010










Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art : Charlotte, NC

(Picture from

Charlotte has a new arts complex called the Cultural Campus. Visually heading up this campus is the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Swiss Architect, Mario Botta designed the building on S. Tryon St., where is certainly stands out against skyscrapers and antique churches. This is his second American building. He kept in step with his signature style - brick, stark, and geometric. Wagner -Murray Architects was the designer of record for this marvelous edifice. It was completed in 2009 and officially open to the public in January 2010.

The Bechtler Museum has an interesting and intimate background. After connecting the dots, I can't imagine a more appropriate Architect for this job. Let's start with the reason the museum is extant. It is the private collection of Swiss born Art lover, Andreas Bechtler. His father and uncle established a deep love for art in the 1950's, and decided to start collecting art Switzerland. Part of this is their collection inherited by their son, Andreas, and part are from his private collection. Business acquisitions had landed Mr. Bechtler in Charlotte, where he now calls home.

The museum houses a lot of recognizable names, such as Warhol, Le Corbusier, Klee and Johns, to name just a few. When I visited, I noticed that there was a large variety of "Le Corbu's" work. Everything from handmade rugs, to paintings, to, of course, furniture. Mario Botta was influenced by Le Corbusier and often quotes him, and refers to him as a Master of Rationalism. I could not find this in my research, but I believe that Botta studied under Le Corbusier at one time. (don't quote me!)

Even though this museum is small, it captures the intimacy of the art itself and the artists. One of my favorite features of this museum, and what seems to set it apart from others, are the personal letters between the Bechtler family and artists during the design processes. Also on display is a guest book from various get togethers at the Bechtlers house in Switzerland. It is a veritable "who's who in modern art". It reinstates the human side of the creativity and feeling that we can usually simply see through our own eyes, at our own perspective.

Recently, the museum added extra weekend hours. For an $8.00 adult admission, you can't beat that with a Barcelona Chair.

For more information on admission, parking and hours, go to:

From me to you, Mr. Bechtler, thank you for bringing you collection to our city!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Come on, Spring!

Hello! I just want to share some pictures of the flowers we saw in Tasmania. This is the "hurrah" in my rally to Spring. These make me smile, and I hope they do the same for you. May the upcoming warm weather bring color and joy to you!

Bloom, baby bloom!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The human side of great Architects?

I had an inspired moment of comedy as I was researching Swiss Architect Mario Botta for my next Blog entry. (incidentally, my next after this) I stated thinking, no matter how rich and famous one is, or how extraordinary a man can be, they are all still human. No? Take a look at these men. They are modern day greats. The best of the best in their field. I took a page from the files of Joan Osborn on this one, to some degree, and it's sad that I am about 15 years late.

Le Corbusier, whose real name is Charles Edouard Jeanneret- Gris, wrote the Five Pillars of Architecture, and sent my design professor into a face flushing excited frenzy at just the mention of his name. He was "da man", to him. He was not only an Architect, but was a furniture designer and artist.

(picture from

Mario Botta is a living Architect, and argued to be the best Swiss Architect of all time. Let's face it, if you have "of all time" after our description, you are probably epic, in some way.

(picture from

..and what about Frank Lloyd Wright? His life was even dissected more in the spotlight than other famous Architects, but what about his time behind closed doors?

(picture from

We see the end results of their work, as we marvel a their achievements. We hear the stories of how they are/were good, bad or indifferent in every step of the design process. What about when they get home from a long day at the office?

What did(do) these men do in their free time?

Now, I have no allusions that I am like them, or for that matter, even good at my job. It seems though, that everyone , can relate to one another in some way.

There are some days that I just don't want to go run, no matter how nice it is outside. Would Frank Lloyd Wright throw off his cape at the door and exclaim that he will not exercise tonight, even though his wife (or mistress) was all suited up for a jog around the block?

Do these guys watch TV? Does Mario Botta tune into the Swiss version of American Idol and get mad at the Swiss version of Sanjaya?

Does he Wii bowl? If so, could he beat me?

Does leaving the sponge in the sink and not on the counter send Botta into a rage?

They walk on sidewalks, they get wet in rain like I do, so why not?

Did Le Corbu get in trouble for leaving the seat up? Did he care?

Could it have been possible that Le Corbu was a terrible driver, or threw like a girl?

Certainly, all of these men could have been the biggest Elvis fan you have ever met. I suppose they could all have been huge Pete Seeger fans as well, like me.

Did FLW prefer boxers?

Did they ever call in sick, and they weren't??

I realize that these men all worked incredible hours to master their craft, but certainly, they must have done common everyday things, like drink directly from the milk carton, or get cavities. When they go to the dentist, do they get to pick their tooth brush color?

I don't want you to think that I am putting these men down in any way. They are clear examples of perfection and greatness, but I was just thinking...

Tasmania III - The Southern Forests and Tehune Air Walk

Mostly, we stayed along the East side of Hobart everyday, except to go Southwest, about 90 minutes, to the Huon Valley to see the Forest. Oddly, the scenery on our drive there reminded me a lot of Upstate NY, aside from the slow controlled driving and dead wallabies on the side of the road. Even the produce was the same - apples and grape vineyards. What we were headed to was nothing like what the Finger Lakes Region where I grew up offered; The Southern Forest.

Okay, I could drone on about how beautiful and breath-taking it was and use words like "lush" and "magnificent". I'll leave that to the pictures. I want to hit on this part of our trip the most because I think it resonates the the dichotomy of Tasmania seems to stand for, and struggles with. Preservation (over 40% of the island is protected) and logging (huge Tasmanian Industry). This is an ongoing conflict in this area, and has lead to violence and protests between the two groups.

In the Southern forest, there stands the Tahune Airwalk, three storeys about the ground. It is the largest cantilevered structure in the world. It stands not for a record, but there to save the rain forest that it guards.

The only thing that I, sadly, can't bring to you on this page is the smell of this forest. It was so fresh and sweet, and evidently, hard to describe. If only I could smell that smell once again, I'd be in Heaven! Bottle it already!

Celery Top

Inside the Pine Forest:

Silver Wattle


Arguably Tasmania's Tallest Tree - BIG TREE

Euclayptus regnens - Swamp Gum

Approx. 87 m - and was possibly higher until it was hit by lightning

for more information on Tasmania's Huon Valley area:

Lastly, for my next blog, I will be returning to Architecture, just for a week. I will be discussing Mario Botta, a Spanish Architect that has compelling building designs, and who happened to design the new Bechtler Museum in Charlotte, NC, which was last weekend's adventure for me and "hubby".

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tasmania II - Port Arthur Prison Colony

Penitentiary –noun
1. a place for imprisonment, reformatory discipline, or punishment, esp. a prison maintained in the U.S. by a state or the federal government for serious offenders.

Before I visited, the extent of the knowledge that I had was that Australia, in fact, was a British Penal Colony a long time ago.

The reason that Australia became a part of the British Penal system was simple; Britain wanted to colonize. The French and Japanese had their eye on the land what is now Australia. Since England was overcrowded as it was, this was a good move to get the really bad prisoners away from the mainland. This is about the farthest away they could have gotten, and could solidify their position in the territory.

Being a prisoner in Australia wasn't so bad in comparison to their existing lives. At the time, the Irish were in the throes of the Potato Famine, and England was rife with disease and overcrowding. The men were sent to Australia to serve a labour sentence, typically with a family. After that, the prisoner was free, and chances are, didn't return to England. About 75,000 prisoners were transported from Britain to VDL during this time that was simply known as the"transportation period".

Port Arthur ran as a prison station from 1833-ca.1853. This was the camp on the Island of Tasmania (then called Van Diemen's Land) where the worst offenders came to stay. These men and boys (the youngest registered at age 8) were prisoners elsewhere that tried to escape their current conditions, committed murder, or was a repeat offender.

This location is where the word "penitentiary" was introduced as a system of reform. It was a way to rehab prisoners through the involvment of Christianity in the convicts everyday lives. It was also the first modern model of a prison system that we are familiar with - single or double chamber cells for each prisoner who is afforded a few hours a day outside it.

The port was protected by a dog line on the thinnest part of the Tasman Peninsula. Ten vicious dogs (one named Tear 'em) were stationed at Eagleneck, where the dogs served as a barrier to the free land.

Suffering and Conditions

William Smith O'Brien was a famous political prinsoner from Ireland, and a resident at Port Arthur. He was in a revolutionary group that was formed to fight for Ireland's independence from Britain. A journal entry stated, "more like a pretty village placed in a romantic position, than an abode of misery and crime" My sentiments were similar at first sight. Later, after he stayed a while he stated that Port Arthur was "a spot which has probably witnessed more of human suffering than almost any spot of equal size on the globe."

Officer's and their families came to settle here and called this camp home. they followed through with as normal a life as possible. They visited one another, thre parties and had clubs. Meanwhile, the prisoners were buidling ships in the water of the frigid harbor, breaking rock to actually fill in part of the harbor with land, and all the while, not allowed to communicate with other prisoners at any time.

A Pictoral Tour

The old grain house and later a prisoners dormitory. This was the sleeping house before private cells were used. A lot of fighting and conspiring went on under this condition.

A view through the trees to the rocky aqua harbor below

A view to the harbor and grain buidling that later became prisoners quarters. The grassy area that you see was infilled by the prisoners one stone at a time.

This is a view down to the harbor from near the surgeons home, which was also near the post office.

A Garden and gate at Trentham

Close up of a garden at Port Arthur's Trantham house.

Around 1853, the settlement became the solution to the calamity that the prison system itself had created within teh society there. The welfare state started there, and Port Arthur became a home for the insane, and also held what the Aussie's still call paupers. In 1877, it finally closed.

Today, you can take around $25 AUS and visit as well, but for a much shorter and enjoyable time!

Last items of note:

The employees do not dress up in costume so that they will not appear to mock the dead and suffered.

In 1996, a man open fired on the grounds, killing 35 and wounding dozens. He was caught the next day adn imprisoned. Do not ask about this occurance, for they do not wish to speak of it. There is a Memorial Garden to honor the victims of that tragic day.

In 1856, Van Diemen's Land was officially renamed Tasmania and granted self government.